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Gimp Masks and Grindcore

Misery Index, Talking Head, Jan. 12

Jefferson Jackson Steele
DAILY GRIND: Misery Index meets reality

By Christina Bumba | Posted 1/16/2008

Misery Index has been at the forefront of the ripening Baltimore grind scene since forming as a studio project in 2001. Spawned from local metal mainstay Dying Fetus, it's taken a truly unconventional style of music and honed it into a force of machine-gun double kicks, heavy riffs, and technically delivered breakdowns. From start to finish, last Saturday's Talking Head show wasn't just any old metal show; it was a full force shrapnel-in-the-ass assault. And the room could feel it.

The sets were short but inflicted enough damage to remain memorable. The sound was not up to par--vocals and guitars were often inaudible. But the room didn't mind. Deathhammer plowed through head-bobbing drones, serving up an offering of pure metal. 4th Horseman turned the room around and brought the scene kids out of the woodwork with its surprisingly ear-pleasing, yet barely tolerable melodic feedback. Did we mention the gimp mask and Speedo-sporting guitarist? When all else fails a little gimp can't hurt.

It was at this point that the room appeared to divide itself--the two-steppin' screamo scene kids in suit jackets and tighter-than-tight pants were on the receiving end of enough death-growled scoffs from the metal guys to make it clear whose night it was. This is not an uncommon event to witness, as local shows are becoming more and more of genre mash-ups as different sounds are billed together. It's nothing dangerous at this point: the metalheads laugh at the scene kids, the scene kids give it back in the pit, and no matter which side you take, it makes for a good time.

Misery Index left this throat burning and this neck whiplashed just with the sound check. In the tight cavern of the club, the swaying of overextended bodies in one mass formation sharing moments of pure euphoria could be felt during "Sheeps and Wolves." The room became one as crowd surfing ensued during "Bottom Feeder," which brought upon a pit that left us expecting blood; instead a few crushed Natty Boh cans were pummeled in the pit and grenade-launched through the crowd. And then Misery Index was in perfect form with "Unmarked Grave," leaving the crowd gasping for more. The night was what it's always been when it comes to Baltimore metal, an unpretentious show all about the music and all about supporting the scene, but not the scene scene, we think.

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